An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are — a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus!
"The weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates." - The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness
The declaration is not surprising to many around the world who enjoy and work with animals. They (we) know from first-hand interaction and observation that animals are subjects of their own lives and not simply objects for human observation. But it's nice to have confirmation from our scientific friends.
Also noteworthy is that the scientific evidence is increasingly indicating that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.
The philosopher Heidegger wrote that human beings have worlds of their own and that we humans are always already being in a world, so process theologians believe that animals are being their worlds, too. This means:
1. They have subjective aims of their own. They seek to survive with satisfaction relative to the situation at hand and foreseeable future.
2. They prehend their surrounding worlds: that is, they feel the presence of the worlds around them with something like awareness.
3. They have emotions: that is, they feel the presence of the worlds around them with emotions of pleasure and pain, attraction and repulsion, curiosity and fear.
4. They make decisions. This means that, in the moment at hand, they consciously or subconsciously select certain possibilities for responding to the situation at hand, and simultaneously cut off or eliminate other possibilities in that moment.
5. They have intelligence. Along with educational theorists such as Howard Gardner, many process theologians recognize multiple forms of intelligence: verbal-linguistic, mathematical-logical, bodily-kinesthetic, visual-spatial, musical-rhythmic, naturalistic, interpersonal (knowing the subjective states of others), and intrapersonal (knowing one's own subjective states), Animals have many of these forms of intelligence, and in many instances their intelligence exceeds that of humans.
6. They have unconscious as well as conscious experience. The unconscious and conscious dimensions of experience include purposes, feelings, decisions, and intelligence, too. Read more here...